State urged to increase funding to Forestry Dept

Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO)
Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO)

THE Government has been urged to increase funding to the Forestry Department to preserve forests and curb the increasing cases of charcoal burning in the country.
Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism Chairperson Geoffrey Lungwangwa said there was need for the Government to increase funding to the Forestry Department to enable the it become effective.
Prof Lungwangwa said inadequate funding and low staffing levels  were  hampering the department’s efforts to preserve forests.
He was speaking in Livingstone at the weekend after a delegation from the Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism inspected the management of the Dambwa Forestry Reserve.
The delegation also inspected the various projects which were constructed in readiness for the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism (UNWTO) General Assembly held in Livingstone last year.
Prof Lungwangwa said fighting charcoal burners would remain a challenge if the department was not adequately funded as the case was currently.
“For example, the entire Southern Province Forest Department has no vehicle. You can’t administer the forest without a vehicle,” Prof Lungwangwa said.
He said the forest was an important resource to the country and it should be preserved from people who wanted to make quick money.
“If we destroy Dambwa Forestry Reserve, Maramba River in Livingstone, we will have no water and many other challenges will come up. We were also told that there are plans to put aside 1, 000 hectares of land for development by the Livingstone City Council,” he said.
Dambwa Forestry Reserve houses a tourism entity known as Lion Encounter which keeps adult lions.
Prof Lungwangwa said his delegation would also inspect forestry related facilities  in Sesheke, Senanga, Mongu and Kaoma.
He also called for speedy construction of an international bus station, ultramodern bus station and the new terminal building at the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International airport so that the facilities could be fully ready for use by the public.
“What we have seen here in Livingstone is that most works are still uncompleted largely because of inadequate funds. We hope these works will be completed soon so that the facilities can be used by the people,” he said.
Mazabuka Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo, who is also a member of the same committee, called for improved coordination among contractors and consultants at the international bus station.
He noted that there were problems of poor coordination at the station as subcontractors’ were reporting to the project consultant and not to the main contractor which was creating unnecessary delays.
Mr Nkombo also noted that the Forestry Department was still working under an old legislation of 1973.
He noted that the removal of forest rangers had contribution to the depletion of forests and hence the need for the Government to revisit the decision.
“If we do not do anything to preserve the forest such as reengaging forest rangers, we will end up having a desert. The Government has to initiate alternatives sources of energy for cooking as many people depend on charcoal,” he said.
Other members of the Parliamentary Committee included Might Mumba, Howard Kunda and James Kapyanga.

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